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The 50 Best Graphic Novels of All Time, Ranked

mobile 50 books
Jason Koeppel / ONE37pm

A comprehensive ranking of the best 50 graphic novels of all time is an impossibly subjective process bound to infuriate nearly everyone. So, naturally, it’s my second assignment on ONE37PM’s comics beat.

There are arguments over what qualifies as a graphic novel. Following the strictest definition, some might argue that it applies only to books written in a single, unified novel format—but let's spice this list up and throw that definition out the window. This list will include everything from indie graphic novels to acclaimed comic runs and a handful of manga, though admittedly not as much of the latter as the genre probably merits. Maybe we’ll do a top ten manga one day.

For graphic novels that are collected versions of single issues (nearly all of them on this list) the dates listed are from first publication of the single issues, rather than the date the collections were published. Full disclosure: if there’s a suspicious prevalence of comics around 2014, that’s when I worked in a comic shop and read everything that came out, so there’s some bias there.

The list is ranked, but outside of the top ten or so that can be vague and occasionally arbitrary, in case you’re baffled at how Sex Criminals beats V for Vendetta and the Dark Phoenix Saga.

A few classics won’t make the cut, but if your favorite didn’t make the list, it’s probably because I haven’t read it yet. Let us know on Twitter and we'll add it to the reading list (not to this list, though, that ship has already sailed).

Also, for simplicity, we'll be listing where to buy these collections new, but definitely consider supporting your local comic shop or buying these used from eBay or similar retailers.

There may be very little in the top ten that’s unexpected, but I’m guessing there could be a few surprises throughout the top 50. Enjoy—and/or prepare to get very angry at—my list of the 50 best graphic novels of all time.

50. Sunstone (2011)

sunstone
Image Comics

You’ll find plenty of superhero comics on the list and plenty of comics suitable for all ages. Sunstone is neither. Graphic novels are more than caped crusaders, and Sunstone is a fun recent reminder of the kind of story to help broaden the medium’s genres.

This comic by Stjepan Šejić and his wife Linda Lukšić Šejić is a full embrace of all things kink and erotica, but what puts it on the list is its central focus on the way the past traumas of two people in a same-sex couple interfere in their relationship and the long road to healing.

buy now, $14.99

49. Dorohedoro (2000)

doro
Ikki Comix

A man named Caiman woke up one day with his memories gone and his head swapped with a lizard’s head. Now, he’s hunting for the sorcerer who did this to try to find a way to get his head and his life back. It’s an intricate and bizarre story that spirals out from there in a dozen different ways, but Dorohedoro is rarely afraid to embrace the strange.

buy now, $21.58

48. The Surrogates (2005)

surrogates
Top Shelf Productions

Every year, The Surrogates feels a little more prescient. The Surrogates is a cyberpunk story in the Bladerunner-type lineage. Here, everyday people have idealized “surrogate” humans they pilot to go out into the world and interact with people, but when an anarchist named Steeplejack starts eliminating surrogates, the detective investigating the case develops uncertainty about how reliant people are to themselves and each other on the perfectly crafted images they project.

buy now, $15.45

47. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (2006)

star wars
Dark Horse Comics

There have been Star Wars comics nearly as long as there have been Star Wars movies, and there have been some really good runs, but few that even come close to John Jackson Miller’s Knights of the Old Republic. A prequel to the game of the same name, the comic follows young, clumsy padawan Zayne Carrick on the run after he’s framed for killing his peers.

It’s a journey that touches on everything from the Mandalorian Wars to corruption festering at the heart of the Jedi. Too many Star Wars comics have felt tethered to the plots and characters of the movies, and Knights of the Old Republic is a testament to what the comics can accomplish when they’re allowed to stretch their wings and become full sci-fi adventures in their own right.

buy now, $26.90

46. 300 (1998)

300
Dark Horse Comics

What 300 gets wrong in terms of homophobia and a bit of old-fashioned xenophobia puts it relatively low on this list, but the fact that it’s here at all is a testament to how much it gets right. 300 absolutely nails the feeling of an epic. Characters are exaggerated and all the dialogue is almost cartoonish in its boisterousness, but it lends the book an utterly mythological feel that leaves readers unable to escape a pure giddiness as these Spartans march into their final battle.

buy now, $26.99

45. Monster (1994)

monster
Viz Media

What responsibility does a doctor hold for the life he saves? Can he live with himself if one act of seeming goodness allows others to commit unspeakable evils? Monster, a tense and philosophical thriller is the manga for those who might find the stylization of others in the genre too extreme. A Doctor reckons with the consequences of his decisions after a former patient is discovered to be a serial killer.

buy now, $25.99

44. Copperhead (2014)

copperhead
Image Comics

One of the most pure space-westerns, Copperhead introduces all the ideas of a galaxy-spanning sci-fi story, but rarely takes that beyond the confines of a small town on frontier. A woman takes her son and runs from an abusive relationship to set herself up as the sheriff in a rural town, quickly finding herself deeply embroiled in the complex and dangerous local politics.

buy now, $10.50

43. By Chance or By Providence (2017)

by chance
Image Comics

Becky Cloonan specializes in ethereal gothic romance, and this self-published anthology she both writes and illustrates is Cloonan firing on all cylinders. The individual stories are relatively short but layered with tragic romance and dramatic ironies that feel evocative of Arthurian legends like Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. It’s exciting and spooky, and Cloonan’s art is always just a treat to look at.

buy now, $14.45

42. Mushishi (1999)

mushishi
Del Rey

Ginko wanders around protecting people from spirits, but in this manga series that often involves more therapy than fisticuffs. Mushishi takes a surprisingly tender approach to its exorcisms, with cases usually fixed by resolving the emotional turmoil spurring on the spiritual crisis. 

New copies are expensive, so definitely consider buying this one used.

buy now, $149.99

41. Spider-Man: The Gauntlet (2009)

spiderman
Marvel Comics

The Gauntlet is one of the greatest Spider-Man stories ever and highlights the heroes' arguably unparalleled rogue’s gallery and the hero’s complicated relationships with many of them. Some of these encounters are better than others, with the Lizard story “Shed” being particularly good, but the real standout are two issues focusing on the Rhino that may be two of the best and most emotionally moving Spider-Man stories ever.

buy now, $39.89

40. Metabarons (1992)

metabarons
DC Comics

Alejandro Jodorowsky and Juan Giménez’s Metabarons gets a lot of comparisons to Dune in ways that run deeper than the author’s previous work involving that book. Like Dune, Metabarons is a sprawling blend of almost feudal family dynasty politics with truly wild sci-fi landscapes and setpieces.

buy now, $39.94

39. The Dark Phoenix Saga (1980)

dark phoenix
Marvel Comics

There’s a reason Fox tried not once, but twice to make a live action Dark Phoenix Saga work. It’s the story of Jean Grey’s uncontrolled ascent into near-godhood and the lengths the X-Men (and Jean herself) will go to defend both humanity at-large and each other. It’s an emotional powerhouse and helped to cement Chris Claremont as the defining X-Men writer.

buy now, $83.46 (new)

38. American Vampire (2010)

american vampire
DC Vertigo

One of the most fun aspects of American Vampire is how willing writer Scott Snyder is to throw out the traditional vampire lore. With various “strains” of vampirism, Snyder throws out the old rules about sunlight and silver in favor of new, wholly American takes on the myth. It’s a decade-hopping tale that starts with a young woman in the Golden Age of Hollywood abused and left for dead, but the story expands over time into a story of grudges and obsessions that span human lifetimes.

buy now, $17.69

37. Superman for All Seasons (1998)

superman
DC Comics

Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s The Long Halloween is widely beloved, but spoiler alert: you won’t find it on this list. For my money, the pair’s best work at DC Comics was Superman for All Seasons. It’s fairly simple as far as Superman stories go, but it’s strength is in tapping into the minds of the supporting cast closest to Clark Kent. Each of the stories offers a beautiful and well-written perspective on the hero with a masterful, Norman Rockwell-esque visual style that’s Tim Sale at his best. There’s rarely been a more heartfelt encapsulation of the Man of Steel, though there’s at least one better Superman story later on in this list.

buy now, $8.74

36. Bloom (2013)

bloom
First Second

Bloom is a tender coming-of-age romance about Ari, a kid who wants nothing more than to leave his father’s bakery to pursue music, and Hector, another boy hired to replace him who has a passion for baking. There’s a humble elegance to Bloom, with a romance and central family conflict. It’s a story of love, responsibility, and some insanely delicious looking baked goods. 

buy now, $17.49

35. Monstress (2015)

monstress
Image Comics

Maika is a young woman trained to be a supernatural weapon wielded by a tyrannical authority, but as a cycle starts over again and more children are put at risk, she runs away with them and fights for survival, even as she seeks to better understand her own psychic links to the world’s supernatural undercurrent. It’s a great story truly elevated by some of the most beautiful artwork of the last few decades that blends various manga and steampunk influences.

buy now, $9.39

34. Mouse Guard (2006)

mouse guard
Villard

In a world of predators, mice need to band together if they have any hope for survival. Mouse Guard’s medieval-inspired setting is gorgeous and though their conflicts may be small, the stakes are life or death. This medieval mouse story manages the careful balance of feeling both grim and adorable in equal parts. 

buy now, $11.29

33. Starlight (2014)

starlight
Image Comics

Duke McQueen is a classic daring pulp hero who was taken away for an interstellar adventure in which he saved the universe. The only problem: when he returns to earth, no one believes him and he’s a laughing stock even within his own family. But years later, the universe comes knocking again and the elderly Duke McQueen gets one more shot at being a hero. Mark Millar would occupy a lot more spots on a “worst graphic novels” list, but Starlight easily counterbalances… almost all of that.

buy now, $14.99

32. Bingo Love (2018)

bingo love
Image Comics

A compassionate story of love long-deferred. Two young women meet at church and quickly discover they have feelings for each other, but bigotry in their community keeps them apart for much of their lifetime until they rediscover each other in their later years and that spark is rekindled. LGBTQ romances are often notable as disproportionately tragic and it’s nice to see a pure romance story that not only doesn’t revel in the torture of its main characters, but celebrates love between seniors.

buy now, $8.07

31. The Saga of Swamp Thing (1984)

swamp thing
DC Comics

As with Morrison, this won’t be Alan Moore’s last entry in the Top 50, and anyone who has read a “Best Graphic Novels” list will understand why. But before… that elephant in the room: Alan Moore breathed new life into superhero horror character Swamp Thing. The whole run is great, but the first volume’s Ship of Theseus reinvention of the character is a bold and defining turn.

buy now, $14.19

30. Persepolis (2000)

persepolis
Pantheon Books

Marjane Satrapi’s autobiographical memoir depicts her family’s struggle through the 1979 Iranian revolution and the turmoil of the years that follow. It’s more than just an eye-opening view of history from the lenses of an eyewitness, it’s a very personal narrative that’s equal parts humorous and heartbreaking.

buy now, $15.29

29. New Avengers: Everything Dies (2014)

new avengers
Marvel Comics

Jonathan Hickman’s New Avengers run isn’t afraid to trust its audience. Too many of the big team books like Avengers or Justice League have a tendency to sand down the rough edges or interesting characteristics to make them more palatable. But Hickman’s New Avengers launches a complex and rewarding story about a secret group within the Avengers that make some difficult, and sometimes unethical, decisions. The whole run is worthwhile, and luckily the culminating event “Secret Wars” is one of the few in recent years at Marvel that truly lives up to its potential.

buy now, $13.34

28. Secret Six (2005)

secret six
DC Comics

The recent love of embracing the silliness of Silver Age villains and humorous juxtaposition against over-the-top violence in media like the Harley Quinn show can, in some ways, be traced back to Gail Simone’s seminal Secret Six. It’s the story of a team of villains with some high body counts, but it’s impossible not to fall in love with the new takes on villains like Bane and Catman that help anchor this dysfunctional team. 

buy now, $59.99

27. Footnotes in Gaza (2009)

footnotes gaza
Metropolitan Books

In the prestigious but fairly limited field of non-fiction graphic novels, Joe Sacco’s Footnotes in Gaza is a standout. The book is an investigation into a massacre in the Gaza Strip during the Suez Crisis, and it makes great use of its medium in some fairly unorthodox ways while sticking to a fact-driven investigation.

buy now, $25.29

26. Golden Kamuy (2018)

golden kamuy
Viz Media

In many ways, Golden Kamuy is the manga equivalent to The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. It’s a western hunt for treasure across Hokkaido in the aftermath of the Russo-Japanese War. It’s a story that relishes in its early 20th century setting, showing a Japan on the cutting edge of industrialization as well as many of those either left behind by its advance or crushed under its weight.

buy now, $10.99

25. Batman: The Black Mirror (2011)

batman black mirror
DC Comics

In arguably the best Batman comic of the last 20 years, Bruce Wayne is nowhere to be found. At a time when Bruce is missing in action, former Robin Dick Grayson steps up to the mantle. But Snyder makes the keen observation that if the villains of Bruce Wayne’s Batman are a reflection of his psyche, then Grayson’s rogue’s gallery would look very different. Black Mirror, impeccably illustrated by artists Jock and Francesco Francavilla, pits Grayson against villains that play with Batman as legacy and generational privilege.

buy now, $14.99

24. V for Vendetta (1982)

V vendetta
DC Black Label

Behind the book’s iconic Guy Fawkes mask that was once a staple at protests is a book with a fantastically nuanced look at the moral ambiguity of terrorism in the face of fascism. In one way, it’s a brutal salvo from Moore at Margaret Thatcher’s England rooted in hardline social conservatism. But the book also takes a hard look at whether the utopian vision of anarchists at the time were any more feasible and what the cost of violence is in pursuit of those goals. 

buy now, $13.99

23. Sex Criminals (2013)

sex criminals
Image Comics

When a couple have sex and achieve orgasm, time stops. Literally. They use this newfound power to start robbing banks. Sex Criminals is a wickedly funny series by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky that blends rapid-fire, joke a panel type humor and background gags. Main characters Jon and Suzie, though, are well written beyond just the jokes and help seal the book’s spot on this list.

buy now, $9.99

22. From Hell (1989)

from hell
Top Shelf Productions

It’s rare that a comic manages to be as chilling as From Hell. Alan Moore follows the unorthodox theory that the murders were committed as part of the cover-up for an illegitimate royal birth. While the murders themselves are disturbing enough, especially with the perpetrator’s clinical detachment, what sets From Hell into new heights is its exploration and near-obsession with the occult as imagined in the darkest corners of Victorian society.

buy now, $17.06

21. Berserk (1989)

berserk
Dark Horse Comics

It’s hard to know what will happen to this long-running series after author Kentaro Miura’s death earlier this year, but even as the body of work stands today, it’s one of the greatest fantasy manga of all time. Main character Guts is a legendary warrior recruited into a band of mercenaries by their charismatic leader Griffith, with whom he becomes close. But it’s a relationship strained by Griffith’s unbridled ambition and Guts’ own trauma and one that feels both beautifully absorbing and doomed, which takes on new sinister implications as the series progresses.

buy now, $13.49

20. Fullmetal Alchemist (2001)

fullmetal
Viz Media

Edward and Alphonse Elric are two of the most beloved manga characters, and for good reason. Fullmetal Alchemist follows the two brothers’ quest to restore their bodies lost after they tried to use the magic of alchemy to resurrect their mother. They’re endearing central characters and an excellent vehicle for exploring the steampunk-inspired setting with one of the best magical rulesets in fiction.

buy now, $8.49

19. Kingdom Come (1996)

kingdom come
Elseworlds (DC Comics)

To understand what makes Kingdom Come so great, it’s important to have some awareness of what comics were like in the 90s. The anti-hero was all the rage, with the traditional heroes on the wane. Kingdom Come takes that on directly, with a story that poses the question of whether or not there’s still a place in modern comics for characters like Superman or Batman. In doing so, it tells one of the best elseworlds stories and arguably the greatest Justice League story.

buy now, $3.45

18. Isola (2018)

isola
Image Comics

Some of Isola’s greatness comes in what’s unsaid. It’s very fairytale in its setup: a queen who has been transformed into a tiger must journey to a fabled island to reverse her curse, and she’s joined by the chief of her guards as her escort. The art of that journey, by Karl Kerschl, is astonishingly beautiful and writer Brenden Fletcher manages to make long sections of what amounts to a monologue by the queensguard feel compelling and nuanced. 

buy now, $7.99

17. A Contract with God (1978)

contract god
Dark Horse Books

No list of the best graphic novels would be complete without Will Eisner’s A Contract with God and Other Tenement Stories. The book is an anthology of four stories that all handle themes of disillusionment and guilt. It’s a mature and nuanced reflection on Eisner’s own experiences in The Bronx and dealing with the death of his daughter. It’s a profound book and one that helped to shape the field over the years that followed.

buy now, $17.59

16. Fun Home (2006)

fun home
Mariner Books

No list of the greatest graphic novels of all time could truly be complete without the inclusion of Alison Bechdel's Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic. The graphic memoir, which chronicles Bechdel's upbringing in rural Pennsylvania, has become a landmark of 21st century queer literature, and arguably altered the perception of graphic novels writ large. It has inspired a generation of memoirists and authors to think differently about the avenues through which we can tell our stories.

buy now, $9.55

15. Hellboy: The Chained Coffin and Others (1998)

hellboy
Dark Horse Comics

Really, you could substitute any given Hellboy collection you prefer, Mike Mignola’s stories about the infernal investigator Hellboy rarely miss, but The Chained Coffin for me takes the cake for setting up the short-story collection format that’s become a defining trait of the series. The book is teeming with sardonic wit and some fantastic action, and Mignola’s art is really one-of-a-kind that’s been frequently imitated but never surpassed.

buy now, $34.79

14. The Sandman: Season of Mists (1990)

sandman
DC Vertigo

Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series is set in some ways inside the D.C. universe, but make no mistake: this is very much a Neil Gaiman story. Preludes and Nocturnes is the launch of Gaiman’s series, but Season of Mists is where Gaiman’s ethereal mythology story truly starts to shine. When Lucifer abdicates his responsibilities in overseeing Hell, a power struggle ensues as various gods try to seize the reins.

buy now, $15.30

13. Hawkeye (2012)

hawkeye
Marvel Comics

As established in number 23 on this list, Matt Fraction is funny, his acclaimed Hawkeye run with David Aja is equal parts exciting and hilarious. From start to finish, every issue is packed with jokes that almost always land, and Aja’s artwork gives the whole thing a unique stylization that became widely imitated for a few years after.

buy now, $14.99

12. God Country (2017)

god country
Image Comics

Emmet Quinlan has become a burden on his family. He’s an elderly man living in Texas whose severe dementia has led to violent and insulting outbursts that have isolated him from nearly everyone he’s cared about and kept him from establishing a relationship with his son Roy and Roy’s family. But when a storm returns and Quinlan is reunited with a magical sword that, in his youth, had given-him godlike powers, he’s granted one last reprieve from his dementia and a chance to have that relationship with his family before the god-like powers from whom the sword hails come to Earth to reclaim it. It’s a beautiful, self-contained story that seamlessly blends the cosmic fantasy of Jack Kirby and a father-son narrative that feels intensely personal.

buy now, $12.29

11. Maus (1980)

maus
Pantheon Books

Art Spiegelman’s Maus may have the look of a children’s parable about the Holocaust, but despite the mouse and cat caricatures, within is an uncompromising and brutally honest view not just of the Holocaust but a biography of Spiegelman’s father. One of the most impressive legacies of the book is how much if veers away from hero worship, depicting his father as an extremely flawed and broken man wracked with guilt.

buy now, $22.49

10. All-Star Superman (2005)

superman allstar
DC Comics

Writer Grant Morrison is going to reappear a couple times in this list from here-on-out, and his Superman is possibly the best depiction of the character as Clark Kent faces his own mortality. Morrison whole-heartedly embraces the full history of the character and paints a compelling portrait of what makes Superman an enduring figure. It’s hard to imagine a book that manages to deliver a fitting send-off to a character that’s been around since 1938, but Morrison manages it.

buy now, $23.90

9. East of West (2013)

east west
Image Comics

It’s possible that Hickman sometimes has too much faith in his readers. For those coming into East of West, it’s very possible to get lost in the initial barrage of names and locations. But those who stick it out, who take in its premise of a world teetering towards apocalypse in a world where the American Civil War never ended, will find an elegant sci-fi western with enough world-building and politicking to make George R.R. Martin blush. Despite its size, the book never loses sight of the core cast and the revenge tale of its central character: Death itself.

buy now, $9.99

8. New X-Men (2002)

new xmen
Marvel Comics

Grant Morrison said in writing New X-Men that he set out to tell one of the best Magneto stories. One issue in, he kills Magneto. The thing is: he pretty much succeeds. As with his Superman, Morrison’s X-Men both absorbs the full scope of the team’s history while simultaneously breaking much of it down into an exploration of its core concepts. With Magneto, in particular, Morrison explores the idea that Magneto may have been better and more powerful as a martyred symbol than he ever was as a flesh-and-blood villain. It’s followed by the arguably more fun Astonishing X-Men run by Joss Whedon, but X-Men has never been as meaningful since as it was in Morrison’s hands.

buy now, $63.90 (New)

7. Saga (2012)

saga
Image Comics

It’s easy and a little cheap to describe Saga by breaking it down into its component parts. Take 1 quart of Romeo and Juliet, with its story of lovers from either side of a conflict eloping together with tragic consequences, and add a liberal amount of Star Wars, with its tale of battle and magic fought on a galactic scale. But Saga is ultimately more than the sum of its parts. The story is narrated by Hazel, the daughter of aliens Alana and Marko who come from rival factions in a cosmic battle, and it follows both Alana and Marko and the huge gallery of supporting characters pursuing or helping them. All of that’s good, but none of it puts it so high without being so unerringly earnest in its handling of Alana and Marko. There may never have been two comic characters who so accurately feel like real people in love, in all their various passions and quarrels.

buy now, $47.99

6. Lone Wolf and Cub (1970)

lone wolf club
Dark Horse Comics

Even if you haven’t read it, you’ve seen Lone Wolf and Cub in its influence. A disgraced wanderer doing everything in his power to protect his child. It’s Road to Perdition. It’s the Last of Us. It’s The Mandalorian. But while it’s been frequently imitated, the nuance of the original and its complex handling of themes about honor and vengeance have rarely been matched. When Ogami Ittō, executioner for the shōgun, is disgraced and his family is killed, Ittō flees with his infant son and travels as a hired sword. The central narrative is Ittō’s search for justice and his relationship with his son.

buy now, $19.99

5. Animal Man (1988)

animal man
DC Vertigo

In what may be Grant Morrison’s best work, and possibly the best non-Batman story out of D.C., Animal Man is a mind-bending take on the then-neglected Silver Age hero that not only breaks through the fourth wall, but deconstructs it in many ways. Animal Man is a delightfully bizarre dive into life inside a world where world resets and real-world sales figures can mean life or death to living, breathing characters. However bizarre Morrison’s Animal Man gets, though, it’s steered through by Morrison’s full sincerity and compassion for his characters.

buy now, $21.49

4. Blacksad (2000)

blacksad
Dargaud

Blacksad is rarely overly complex, either in goals or plots, but what it does is consistently tell some of the best detective noir stories in any medium since Chinatown. Cynical, hardboiled private eye John Blacksad, who happens to be a black cat, investigates a series of crimes in a version of 1950s America where anthropomorphic animals replace humans. The stories are brilliant at times and the characters, Blacksad in particular, are incredibly likeable. But it’s Juanjo Guarnido’s artwork that is just jaw-dropping gorgeous across every page and keeps it high on the list of the best graphic novels of all time.

buy now, $23.49

3. Dark Knight Returns (1986)

dark knight
DC Comics

If Morrison faced the unenviable task of writing a “last Superman story”, Miller’s task of crafting a “final” Batman story (ignore that there’s a pair of pretty terrible sequels) feels nearly impossible. Miller not only succeeds but helped to redefine the character in ways that cast a long-shadow even today. The story follows an elderly Bruce Wayne who emerges from retirement for a few nights to don the cape and cowl one last time in a last mission to restore order to Gotham city. 

BUY NOW, $17.79

2. Daredevil (2001)

daredevil
Marvel Comics

Serialized comic books, particularly those at DC and Marvel, have a reputation for lacking stakes. Characters don’t stay dead, relationships that are broken up are often reset. But Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev’s run on Daredevil excels because it’s all about consequences. Frank Miller’s run on the character is acclaimed in part for running Matt Murdock through the wringer, but Bendis’ arc is Murdock’s real low. Bendis’ Daredevil is a real character study of Matt Murdock, and all his warped sense of justice and Catholic guilt. There are few superhero comic runs that have brought the reader so uncomfortably deep into the character’s psyche. It’s all complemented by Maleev’s exceptional artwork, whose Hell’s Kitchen is bathed in shadow and whose Matt Murdock consistently looks like the most tired man alive.

BUY NOW, $69.98

1. Watchmen (1986)

watchmen 1
DC Comics

In all honesty, how could it have been anything else? There are countless blogs devoted to how overrated the comics are, and they’re all wrong. Nearly every issue in Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ 12-issue deconstruction of the superhero genre is perfect and genius on some level — particularly The Watchmaker, in which we follow Doctor Manhattan’s non-linear perception of the world. Every issue, every panel, feels carefully crafted and composed.

Watchmen’s central mystery, who killed The Comedian, is a compelling hook for a story that dives headfirst into Cold War anxieties and meaningful questions about hero worship. There are few stories that can live up to the kind of reputation Watchmen has earned, but it does.

buy now, $12.74
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